A - Z Challenge 2016

A – Z Challenge 2016, A is for…

Ais for  Amigoni, Jacopo (1682–1752), also known as Giacomo Amiconi,  he was born in Naples or Venice in the late-Baroque or Rococo period. He is thought to have begun his career in Venice, but is known to have been well travelled and was prolific throughout Europe, where his portraits were in demand. Jacopo_amigoni,_il_cantante_farinelli_con_amici_(detail)

Amigoni initially painted both mythological and religious scenes before becoming sought after to decorate the homes of the wealthy. In 1717, he is documented as working in Bavaria in the Castle of Nymphenburg (1719), and yes part of the reason I picted him was because I love that name lol. then in  in the castle of Schleissheim (1725–1729); and in the Benedictine abbey of Ottobeuren. He returned to Venice in 1726. His Arraignment of Paris hangs in the Villa Pisani at Stra. From 1730 to 1739 he worked in England, in Pown House, Moor Park Wolterton Hall and in the Theatre of Covent Garden. I love the fact that he painted in such diverse places from theatres to monasteries in a time where you would have though that doing one would exclude you from another.

In 1739 he returned to Italy, perhaps to Naples and surely to Montecassino, in whose Abbey existed two canvases (destroyed during World War II). Until 1747, he travelled to Venice to paint for Sigismund Streit, for the Casa Savoia and other buildings of the city. In 1747 he left Italy and established himself in Madrid. There he became court painter to Ferdinand VI of Spain and director of the Royal Academy of Saint Fernando. He died in Madrid.

Jacopo_Amigoni_-_Juno_Receiving_the_Head_of_Argos_-_WGA00272This painting is entitled Juno Receiving the Head of Argos (1730-32) and I have a couple of reasons for picking it first I love the fact it is mythical rather than religious but also having seen this type of work in real life you know that it will be a substantial piece and a photo will never do it justice.

I also love peacocks which of course are depicted here as a sign of the wealth and extravagance of the patron for whom this painting was commissioned. I love the fact there was no question of body shaming that having saggy boobs and love handles was totally okay, although I will say the cherub on the floor looking up does look a little creepy, like an old mans face on a babies body.

I could discuss more the technical aspects, there are issues with this painting in terms of multiple light sources and a couple of anatomical abnormalities but the fact is sometimes you just have to over look the details to enjoy the big picture something that in today’s society has become increasingly difficult for a lot of people as everything is placed under a microscope and scrutinised.

One thing I am going to do with each painting I feature is consider what type of book would it fit on the cover of, I think this would be a story of revenge and betrayal, the scorned woman receiving the head of her murdered lover for whom she feels nothing but contempt, in the story the messenger would be the new lover who has acted on her wishes but of course she would in turn betray him and it would be a he said/she said case for justice to determine the true criminal before they are both condemned, she going to her fate with a hard heart him heartbroken still at her abandonment of him.

(I have taken some of the facts and the images from Wikipedia for speed but the thoughts on the paintings and emotions and ideas provoked are entirely mine)

Film/Dvd Reviews · Monday Musings

DVD Review – Tony Robinson’s Crime and Punishment (Box set 2007)

Originally aired on Channel 4 here in the UK as a series Tony Robinson once more wears his history hat rather than that of the comedian and leads the viewer on a journey through the origins of British Law.

The series moves swiftly through the ages and deals only with major incidents which shaped British History.  The fact that Tony Robinson is not an actual historian works in this case, his enthusiasm for history shines through and as those who have watched his Time Team programmes will know it is a passion which illuminates him on the screen.  He uses visual re-enactments of certain elements to demonstrate some of the issues raised as well as visiting many places of historical events.

If you are a real history buff this may not be detailed enough for you but if you have a teenager you want to get interested in history this may be the way to do it.   Robinson uses his natural gift for humour to provide vivid descriptions of torture methods of times past without the need for graphic illustrations.   He is witty and what information given is done so in such a way that it does not feel like studying.

I give this 3.5 out of 5 as I personally think a longer series with a little more detail could easily have been justified.

Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – The Gallows Curse By Karen Maitland

This is the first book I have read by this author and I have to say I am hooked.

Set in medieval England the Gallows Curse is a tale of intrigue and political plotting mixed with a healthy dose of witchcraft and the supernatural.  Each chapter is preceded by an excerpt from a fictional folklore book which gives an insight to the beliefs held by the common folk of the time, is details the uses for various herbs and plants in everyday life as well as their uses in or against witchcraft.

The book’s plot follows the twists in the lives of various characters as they become unwittingly entwined.  One aspect I found extremely interesting was the notion of the sin-eater, that a person on their death be absolved of their sins by feeding those sins to another to bear.  Set against the real historical facts of the time Maitland draws on both religious and political events of the time to create a spider web which will have you well and truly trapped within its pages.

The book also raises the interesting question of the sins carried by those who took part in the crusades, whether those who committed the acts were in equal blame to those who ordered the committed, this has resonance still when you consider more recent history and how those who argued they were only following orders are viewed with modern eyes.

The author has included a chapter at the end explaining the history of the time and also a glossary of the terms used for anyone not acquainted with the period which was most helpful.

A huge 5 out of 5.  If I have one slight complaint it is at the publisher, this book cries out for a sequel yet they publish the opening chapters of another novel by the author at the end, yes the new novel sounds good but it breaks the spell created by the main story.

Questioning the World · So it's Saturday

Reflecting On the Past

It seems fitting that tonight on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the titanic my thoughts should be reflecting on the past.  Those small decisions made be indivduals which shape the lives of those around them.  It is ironic as I sit here dwelling on the past that I am actually watching The Matrix a film based on the future where the human race (aside from the few outsiders) have no power to make any choices.  This train of thinking was not only sparked by the anniversary of the tragic loss of life a hundred years ago but also the book I am reading The Resurrectionist
by James Bradley.  This thought provoking novel looks at the profession of the anatomists and bodysnatchers whose trade modern medicine has much to thank for.

Although one could never condone the idea of loved ones being dragged from their graves to be dissected on a cold hard slab, the contribution they made to the understanding of the human body cannot be denied.  The decisions these people made to break the laws for their various reasons has directly impacted all our lives.  Would things have changed and would be where are if they had not we will never know.  Although I am writing medieval fantasy, history fascinates me.  Maybe the reason I write fantasy rather than historical fiction is at the minute I lack the skills to do the history justice, and maybe the patience for all the research required.

Unless someone some day invents a time machine the nearest any of us will get to the past is through books.  I believe that a good book be it a textbook or fiction can make you experience a place in a way no picture or film ever can.  The film or documentary can show you what it was like, They can tell you how it was but a good book engages all the senses.  It can make you smell the air, in the case of the book I am reading the stench of slowly decaying bodies, the smell in the crowded ginshops.  It cam make you imagine the taste of the opium on your tongue, as well as see the world they are depicting. but more than that they draw you into that world to understand not only what the little choices were but why they had to be.  A writer is compelled to write, even if it is only for their own persual,  Once upon a time writing was the providence of the elite, the majority excluded from reading or writing. I know from my family tree I would certainly have fallen into the class denied the opportunity to read.  But the real question is this if I had never read a book would this imagination still be swirling round my head looking for an outlet?  Would I have had the urge to illicitally learn my letters and go against society? Would my creativity take a different path equally reprehensible to society and have found me on the stage, courting any ‘gentleman’ for a few coins?  Throughout history others have made the decisions to go against what was acceptable to give us the chance to do what we love.  But more than that a there are the many individuals whose actions have inspired our thoughts, shaped our stories, and helped create our characters.  They have left behind a legacy through those written words which allows us a glimpse into their worlds and for that I will be forever grateful.  Even in the simplest words we share with others we share a part of ourselves. So what are your thoughts could they writers out there have stopped writing because society forbade it?  Is there any example of where history directly inspired you?